My first yoga class

February 16, 2008

I figured that if yoga was good enough for Tom Brady, it was good enough for me. Today at Equinox I tried yoga class for the first time.

My experience with yoga was so new/interesting/unusual that I feel like I might be spoiling it for others writing about it here. The instructor was tipped off that I was new right away by my problems opening the door — how could I have known it was sliding?

Required class materials were a yoga mat, foam block, and colorful blanket, all which were neatly stacked against the wall. The class started with the instructor offering a prayer-like testament to honor President’s Day. Then the class chanted after the instructor in a mystical language. Amazingly, it seemed most everyone knew the words. The instructor progressed into a series of yoga poses; those poses I remember include “Downward Dog,” “Plank,” and “Warrior I”. When I wasn’t spying on what my neighbors were doing, I managed to align my spine, neck, and legs as required, but aligning my soul will certainly take more practice. I just went with the flow.

Obviously I didn’t get very much out of the class, but I can’t discount yoga entirely. Just as with running, it’d be foolish to expect benefits right away, especially when as unprepared as I was. I did find some of the stretches interesting and potentially relaxing. The real question is whether my one hour of time might have been better spent running or lifting. Maybe Tom Brady can help me out with my poses and I can show him how to handle the Giants’ defense.

Later on, sometime between yoga and an evening walk, I managed to tweak my foot. Dr. Scholl’s Arch Supports: -$10.99.

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Lifting, running, spinning…

February 14, 2008

It took me a few weeks to settle into a workout schedule. I go to the gym twice a day. Mornings I alternate between running on the treadmill and spin class. In the evening I follow a three-day rotation: legs/shoulders, triceps/chest, and biceps/back. I do at least three exercises targeting each area and abs work every other day. Sure, rest is important, but I don’t schedule it since there are enough days when I can’t make it to the gym. I entirely expect the twice-daily regiment to end once I start increasing mileage.

It’s cold outside so I run on a treadmill; par for course is 25 minutes of either a flat, fast run, or the treadmill Cascades program, which is constant pace over two severe inclines.

My best discovery so far is spin class! The concept is easy: the instructor shouts whether to pedal fast or slow; set resistance easy or hard (simulating hills); and stand or sit. However, there’s plenty of room for improvisation. Are those numbers resistance or speed? How do you go from 70% to 80% resistance when the dial has no numbers and no arrows? And most commonly, what did the instructor just say?? I might have started spinning to spare my knees, but I continue it for the music! The tunes are typically remixes of popular dance music and at Equinox, the bass pounds so hard, you might think you’re at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Joining Equinox

February 6, 2008

I joined Equinox in December 2007 because my Columbia University affiliation was expiring, or at least that was the official reason. To be clear, I never went to the Columbia gym anyway. Taking the subway three stops is just too much overhead for a workout.

At $139 per month, Equinox membership is a significant reoccurring expense but definitely relevant to my running. I’m sure I’ll mention Equinox many times over the next few months.

Not everything in Manhattan is this expensive; Equinox is significantly more money than any of the three gyms within four streets of my apartment building. Equinox is newer and nicer than the others, but I joined it primarily because it is very close to where I live.

There are many other ways to rationalize the premium membership. The most convincing way is to highlight that because Equinox is so close, I work out much more often than I would a club a few streets away. Per visit, not only is the cost lower, but the experience is better. Easy.

Aside: The Equinox chain of gyms was in December acquired by The Related Companies, a private real estate development company whose most notable project was the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in New York City. The Related Companies’ founder, Chairman and CEO, and large-stake owner is Stephen M. Ross who in 2004 donated $100M to what is now known as the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, the school that I attended. I like to think my membership dollars are going to a good cause…eh, somehow.